Diabetes, pregnancy, coma—Illiana alum experiences Grace through it all

by Maddie Holesinger, Illiana journalism student

Grace
Grace DeBoer Sullivan (right) and her mom, Patty DeBoer, enjoy lunch together two days before Grace went into a diabetic coma. (Photo provided by Jenny DeBoer)
LANSING, Ill. (January 26, 2018) – Grace DeBoer Sullivan, a class of 2004 Illiana alumna, has endured unusual and frightening medical complications in the birth of her first child, a healthy baby boy.

Grace was diagnosed with type one diabetes when she was six years old. She experienced hospitalizations more than once while growing up, but she has been managing her diabetes with insulin shots since then.

While working at Whole Foods on August 28, Grace collapsed and went into a coma. At the time, she and her husband Paul were expecting a baby whose due date was February 7, 2018. They had waited to start having kids due to her diabetes, but since she had been successfully regulating her sugar levels, they felt it was time. Grace and Paul ended up announcing the pregnancy to their family in June when she was only four weeks pregnant.

“It’s a blessing she told people so early because she got to enjoy her pregnancy before she went into the coma,” said Jenny DeBoer, Grace’s younger sister.

While Grace was in the coma, the baby was still growing healthy without any complications, although physicians were worried that she might have severe pre-eclampsia. Grace spent a month in the Neuro ICU at Community Hospital in Munster, Indiana. They detoxed her off the sedation medicine about six weeks after she went into the coma. The day before she was moved out of the ICU she began to use her voice. Doctors kept a close eye on the baby until his birth on December 22, 2017. He was only 33 weeks and one day.

Since Michael’s birth, Grace has been on the road to recovery. Recently, she was moved to the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab and has been making progress in therapy, has gotten into a wheelchair, and has been able to walk up and down stairs with some help. Grace recognizes most family members even though she gets confused on their names, and has been able to attend church at the rehabilitation center.

“Her physical improvements will most likely go quicker than her mental improvements, but we trust in God’s plan and timing,” wrote her mother, Patty DeBoer.

Throughout the five-and-a-half-month journey, Patty has been with her daughter all but two days, allowing Grace’s husband Paul to focus on their son.

“It’s so unbelievable how much support has been shown,” said Jenny. “Our church’s Thanksgiving offering went to Grace, and on January 13 at Illiana there was a fundraiser that raised a lot of money. Also, many family and friends and even people we don’t know have been praying for her and for Michael.”

To find out more about Grace’s story and follow her progress, visit the Facebook page her family set up:

 

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